Hi everyone, I've been thinking for a while about taking up a Chinese musical instrument, and thought that here might be a good place to start looking for advice.

In terms of my own musical experience, I play the violin (grade 8), oboe (grade 8), recorder (grade 7), and piano (grade 5).  This, I suppose, would mean that a logical choice of instrument would be the erhu or xiao, but I also like the pipa, guzheng and particularly the guqin (there's something just so serene and dignified about that instrument).<Obligatory picture of sage playing a guqin...not sure if I could pull off the facial hair though...>

I think a major problem for me will be my location (Scotland).  Finding a teacher up here might be next to impossible, so an instrument that's easier to self-teach may well be better.

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Ha, that's my instrument too! 古琴 and 二胡 are both hard for self-teach. 

For self teach, I recommend from easy to hard is: 笛子,萧,古筝,琵琶.  It's interesting, that 古琴 and 古筝 seems close to each other, but it says 古琴 is 10 times harder...

But my suggestion is, if you don't have a schedule and you really like one of them, it‘s worth even 10 years on it, right? :)

Thanks very much for the advice Seraph.  Another problem for me would be actually getting my hands on an instrument to try for myself before buying and committing to a single one.  I suppose I could stick to what is familiar from my playing experiences (the erhu, dizi and xiao) and branch out later (the thought of having a sleek, dark guqin mounted on the wall that I could play for relaxation and meditation is really quite enticing).

I imagine there would be a difference in technique between the Chinese and Western instruments, but having experience with similar instruments would make learning a new one easier, right?

yeah you are definetely right. You already have so many experiences, I believe you can pick up any instruments must faster than most of other people. That gives you more freedom to try all sorts of instruments, really good talent.  But for me, almost all instruments are hard for me, so I only pick one and try to learn. :)

As we say in English, It's best to not "bite off more than you can chew".  So I think I'll start looking into getting an inexpensive erhu and some self-teaching materials.  Pretty much every member of my family plays a musical instrument, so they'd probably be interested in me expanding my repertoire.

Hi, Ruairidh! I'm also in Scotland. Have you thought of getting in touch with either the cultural organisations that deal with Chinese matters in Edinburgh, or the Chinese School in Glasgow? I'd be surprised if there weren't more interest in musical matters, especially at the latter, and there may even be the possibility of renting rather than buying an instrument.

(I love the music of the 古箏, but I doubt if I could carve out enough time to learn it.)

Cheers Fearchar, I've taken a look at the websites for the Chinese schools in Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as the Confucius Institute.  I'll check in with them about that.

I suppose I've  now also got a practical reason for wanting to pick up a Chinese instrument; My friends and I have been busking on the Royal Mile for the Fringe Festival and not having a particularly successful time at it...yesterday, my brother made a rather astute observation; "There's nothing to separate us from the other musical acts out there."  So I think a something as exotic as a Chinese instrument would definitely give people a reason to at least stop and listen to us.


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